Professional networking has always been a challenge, but since we’ve been spending so much time out of the office recently, it’s gotten even harder! It’s clear that we need new ways of connecting professionally with industry leaders and colleagues, but what is the solution?
In this edition of the UpTech Report, we meet with Sam Jacobs, CEO of Pavilion (formerly known as Revenue Collective) to talk about professional learning communities in the business world (PLCs) and business networking 101.
Our host, Alexander Ferguson, digs into how Jacobs first got started down this fascinating path with the community Revenue Collective, where they actually barred CEOs and investors from joining at first! You’ll find out why. Plus, Jacobs explains some of his own knowledge that he has acquired along the way while growing his own business.
Sam Jacobs is the Founder and CEO of Pavilion, the premier community and career development platform for high-growth leaders and their teams in every function. Sam launched Pavilion as Revenue Collective in 2016 and bootstrapped the company to $10M in ARR before taking on a $25M growth financing round in early 2021, led by Elephant Ventures and GTM Fund.
Prior to Pavilion, Sam spent 15 years as a senior revenue leader at VC-backed companies in the New York area including Gerson Lehrman Group, Axial, Livestream/Vimeo, The Muse, and Behavox. He lives in the West Village of Manhattan with his wife and two dogs, Walty and Williams.
DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!
Sam Jacobs 0:00
The first thing required for successful CRO is a great product and a and a CEO that understands how money is made, and most CEOs don’t.
Alexander Ferguson 0:13
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our applied tech series. UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video at teraleap.io. Today, I’m excited to be joined by my guest, Sam Jacobs, who’s based in New York. He’s the founder and CEO at Pavilion. Welcome, Sam, good to have you on.
Sam Jacobs 0:30
Thank you, I’m glad to be here. Now,
Alexander Ferguson 0:33
this is a little bit different conversation for those who have used to listen to our series. pavilion is a paid membership community for high growth leaders and their team. So your members are actually a lot of the other SAS and technology leaders that we’re interviewing. They’re, they’re part of your network, and you’re helping them grow. At the same time, you’re saying the same unit economics in the way you acquire customers looks like a SAS. And you’ve successfully built a community of members that often suffer company says solutions they’re trying to do as well. So we’re going to break down a couple different angles for those listening how approaches but help me understand Sam, what was what was the whole concept behind this? How did this get started?
Sam Jacobs 1:16
Sure. Well, it got, you know, like many, many companies, many decent companies, I was the customer, before I was, you know, the founder in the sense that this was something that I needed. So the two driving forces that really served as
you know, the bedrock for what ultimately became pavilion. One is the fact that our average tenure in all of our roles is shrinking pretty dramatically, particularly, of course, in the startup ecosystem. So when I got going, I’ve been a revenue leader, a VP of sales, a chief revenue officer in New York City since 2003. So for 18 years, and my first job was seven and a half years, my next job was four and a half years, my next job was 18 months, my next job was nine months, my next step was 10 months. And I was getting more senior over the course of that trajectory. So I was and, you know, I’m not that easy person to get along with, I suppose in certain context. So four out of those five jobs, I was fired. And my career was really unstable in the sense that I was having trouble understanding and visualizing how, at the end of all, this merry go round, you know, experiences that ultimately I would end up at the point that we would all imagine ourselves to end up when we begin working, which is having generated wealth, you know, having had impact having built long lasting relationships, and having achieved some measure of success, it was beginning, it was really feeling pretty frustrating and feeling like I couldn’t see the path forward, that would at the end of it would lead me to those things that I just mentioned. The other thing that’s happening relatedly is that all of our jobs are changing because of technology. So even the skills that are required to be good as a chief revenue officer or chief marketing officer or chief financial officer, our ever changing, there’s and we this is not news. But technology is obviously impacting how we all do our work. And then this the evolution of the world. So if you’re a CFO, you know, you have to know what an SPV is. And you have to understand non dilutive financing, and all of the different financing options there are that probably didn’t even exist 15 or 20 years ago. So two things, job security and job volatility at an all time high, while knowledge required to be effective in those roles. Also, at an all time high sort of degree of complexity at an all time high. So I started what was then called revenue collective for Chief Revenue officers and VPs of sales. It was just in the New York City area. And the concept was we were going to provide, we were going to use community. And this is I think, an important there’s a couple key. I don’t know if they’re innovations, you know, when we were talking offline, you mentioned crack the code. There’s a couple innovations that that I think are part of our success. But I would also acknowledge that I don’t always understand why we’re why people are successful. And anybody that fully says that they understand why they’re successful is probably lying or incorrect. But nevertheless, one of those one of those realities is that too many people started communities that were in some way or another subservient or beholden to third party interests. The basic, most recent, most obvious example would be LinkedIn. Right? LinkedIn is a cult. I mean, you wouldn’t even think about it like that. But it is a community. But the purpose of the community, the real people that drive the business for LinkedIn are effectively recruiter salespeople and advertisers. And we are we are units we are inputs into that machine. We are not customers of LinkedIn, for on a smaller scale, you know, if there are sponsors, if there are investors that can concept of a community always existed for some reason other than to serve the interests of its members in its purest form. So one of the things that we did was I started a community where those people at the beginning they weren’t even allowed to join investors weren’t even allowed to join CEOs. Now I run a CEO community, but CEOs weren’t allowed to join. This was just a community for sales executives. And the purpose of the community was not to, quote unquote, elevate the profession of sales, which is a phrase that I, I guess is a little bit of a pet peeve for me, because it’s so abstract. The purpose was to help the human beings that were members of the community, be better at their job, find jobs, negotiate more effectively for those jobs and lead better lives and sleep better at night. So that was the the origin story when I started it. I didn’t expect it to grow because I felt like well, it’s a sales executive club. Isn’t there a sales executive club in every city in the world, it’s the easiest thing in the world to start, you could start one, Alex, if you wanted to take a bunch of people out to dinner tonight, you could just call it something and there you go, you’d have a competitor. So what I didn’t realize was no, there actually wasn’t a sales executive club in every city in the world. And that the way that we positioned and articulated a value proposition was actually quite unique. And so people started reaching out to me, and this was all I had other jobs. But people started reaching out to me saying, Hey, can we do this in London? Can we do this in Denver? Can we do this in Toronto? I said, of course, you know, it hadn’t occurred to me that you might want to, but I would love that, let’s figure out a structure where that would make sense. And so we quickly launched a bunch of new chapters. And it continued to grow. And I began working on it full time three years ago, in December of 2018, completely bootstrapped, never raised any outside capital, it just grew. And then you know, COVID was an inflection point. Some communities, we were an in person events, business, we were dinner business, you know, and we’d go to outreach and other sales technology companies, and we’d say, give us $10,000, and we’ll host a dinner and your rep can come and I’ll have a bunch of sales letters that might buy your stuff at the dinner. COVID came along, we had to pivot to purely digital as everybody did, I guess we did it. Well. I know. Other side. No, I am deeply familiar with certain companies that did not do it. Well. We did it well, we moved from having like two webinars a month or a quarter to 3840 5060 digital events, every single week, we began running bi weekly benchmarking surveys to help people understand what was happening as the world changed during COVID. And we became a purely digital experience, which was frankly, you know, very surprising to me, because that’s not how we started at all. And it turned out to be an accelerant to our growth. We went from about 1000 people to about 3700 people global numbers, in 2020. And our business model to your point is, is just paid membership right after you pay. So there’s no third, you know, I mean, we have a sponsorship line item, but generally speaking, 8080 90% of our revenue is you decide to become a member and you pay us and you need to keep paying us because you like it or you stop paying when you don’t. And so we grew, you know Forex
in in 2020. And, and I wasn’t raising money, we were profitable, I was having a blast running this business, the team was growing however, and and then a venture capital firm called Elephant ventures reached out to me in February of this year, and that was just at the same time that I was beginning to have this idea that like the values that were espousing the value proposition, what we’re trying to do for people, which has helped them navigate their career, and help them lead more fulfilling professional lives. That’s not specific to sales and marketing and customer success. And even if we would only build a finance community in 10 years, I wanted the brand flexibility to do that. And so I was already thinking about changing the name. And then they looked at our numbers and said, Hey, we want to invest $25 million. And you know, is that of interest to you? And I said, Absolutely. Let’s take a look. And so now, you know, as of today, we are I don’t know if you’d call it a Series A I called it a growth financing, because I don’t want to give people the impression that, you know, we’re burning capital so much that you know, we need to be on a fundraising cycle. And I don’t think I could be wrong, that capital is the deterrent. I don’t think capital is the reason that we’ve been successful or not successful. At any rate, as of today, we’re about 6500 global members. We have expanded into finance and CEOs is two communities outside the revenue umbrella. I run a CEO Pavilion of you know, of startup CEOs, and yeah, and we’re, you know, roughly a $10 million business on the way to 20 million next year and, and doing great.
Alexander Ferguson 9:31
You pack a lot of the entire story in one breath. I mean, that was like, there’s a lot to unpack there, which which we’ll do, which we’ll do, but I find it interesting is you start off with I need information which I need a solution which all good entrepreneurs, that’s where usually their business begins with they see a need and then they want to solve it. And then it starts to snowball from there. This idea of creating a community though, as I kind of preface this Beginning others have desire this. But it can be hard to crack where people are coming to you and saying, yes, we want to join, we want to grow. What you think if you just like one or two key ingredients or things that that have helped that natural growth of membership wanting to join this community? What would that be?
Sam Jacobs 10:25
One or two things, but I’m so long winded. So you know, who knows, maybe it’ll be five things. me give you a shortlist. I think the business model is central to our success. Because we don’t have any ulterior motive or incentives are aligned with, if you became a member, you would be my customer. I don’t have another customer. We are not customers of Facebook, we’re not customers of LinkedIn. We’re not customers in most communities, because they’re free. Well, the people that write the checks get to tell you what to do. So one thing is that our incentives are completely aligned with our members. Everybody that starts a community will tell you start a job board, maybe you should start a fund, maybe you should start an executive search firm. That’s like the two favorite recommendations. No, I didn’t want to do that. I wanted recurring revenue. And I don’t want to compete with recruiters and I don’t want to compete with investors, I want to be partners with them. So we kept the business model simple. And our incentives are completely aligned with our customers. If we stopped doing a good job, they start canceling and we don’t have a company. And if we continue to do a good job, and then it works. That’s thing number one. And then think number two is I believe that our values are a key to our success, I believe that we have a unique point of view about genuinely sincerely wanting to help people. And again, that is by design as a as a as an effect of the incentive structure. Right? What you might call it, Charlie Munger, from, you know, in Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s like second in command always says he’s always he’s always on, he always underestimates the power of incentives to drive behavior. Our incentives are to help people become more successful, because if we stopped doing that they stopped paying us. However, our values are authentic. And I think that, that authenticity, you know, which because I’m the founder, I have to not trying to be egotistical, but they do come from me. That’s, you know, the company comes from my sets of beliefs about helping other people. I think that that? I think I mean, it, I think people believe that I mean, it I think if they stopped believing that I meant it. That would be a big, big problem. I hire people that also believe it and what is it? It is service, it is that we seek to help? Yes, it’s a business. Yes, we charge money. But we are looking to help. We are as eager and anxious to support you and help you if you need something, we want to help you do that thing. Um, so those are the two I mean, I can go on at length.
Alexander Ferguson 13:01
Listening, I’m sure. But it’s, I believe that that the desire to help must resonate if the growth has been going in the direction you said, the reason why I found out about you is because of someone else was actually in pavilion I someone I’ve interviewed on our series, and they’re like, You need to go talk to Sam, for you mentioned you have to two groups, you have the CEO. Group, what was the term you
Sam Jacobs 13:24
can we call them pavilions? That’s the naming convention. Right. So there’s really no cetera.
Alexander Ferguson 13:30
Got it. And are you started? Great. Multiple pavilions? Yeah, you started with the CROs, which is in the sales side. Now see? Yes. Do you have others as well.
Sam Jacobs 13:37
We have, you know, not to be too complicated. We have three membership levels, we have an analyst level, an associate level, and an executive level. And within those three levels, we cover customer success, sales, marketing, and revenue operations. And those are kind of like the four broad, functional personas so to speak. And I remember, we used to be called revenue collective, so it was very clear who we were for. So we’ve launched sorry about that. We’ve launched the CEO pavilion, and we’ve launched to finance pavilion. And so those are the areas and do I intend to, you know, create pavilion for VPs of HR and Pete and Chief People absolutely, over time. But what I found and discovered is that it’s, it’s not that easy. And that these things, you know, like a good cake or a loaf of bread, they need to be baked at, you know, the right the right speed. So, if you try to juice it, if you try to like kind of disproportionately or artificially accelerate the concept, I think you lose your authenticity. And so we’re just trying to make sure that, for example, I run the CEO kazillion myself, I have a team of you know, the company is 50 people, but I do all of the things for the CEO group because I want to make sure it’s good and it works. Before we you know, Before we hand it off to other people to execute
Alexander Ferguson 15:02
your, your CRO pavilion, obviously you’ve got that down, you can have people that that run that? Well, I guess it’s a good example of as the CEO, when you’re when you’re starting a new, going after a new target market with a new product, you need to be personally involved understand the pain points and make sure it gets launched properly. Yeah,
Sam Jacobs 15:21
I think so. And yeah, I think you, you need to have a plan. And then you know, and again, it’s a special kind of product, because it’s community. So people need to believe that it’s real, and that you mean it, and that you understand where they’re coming from. And so I couldn’t start, you know, an HR community, because I’ve never worked in HR. And I don’t really know, the issues that HR professionals faces are not as near and dear to my heart. So to do that the right way, we would probably look for somebody or some buddies that have built or run HR communities in the past and then either work with them, integrate them, acquire them, whatever. But you know, there needs to be authenticity.
Alexander Ferguson 16:04
Taking a sidestep for a moment no being see CROs has been your track record your own history and the base up to up to the near recent past for pavilion. What are some ingredients of success for CRO like if you’re if you’re just speaking to a CRO right now, let’s say in the technology space in in the software, space, SAS world? You know, a lot of your trainings and things going on right now, what are you educating people on?
Sam Jacobs 16:32
Well, first of all, we educate people on a lot because we have, we launched a thing called pavilion University, and the flagship course in pavilion University is called CRO school Chief Revenue Officer school. So stuff into my kitchen, you know, like this is an area where I have some definite opinions, the number one biggest drawback of or failure point. And so the first thing required for successful CRO is a great product and a and a CEO that understands how money is made. And most CEOs don’t, and most people don’t. And so what do I mean by that? I mean, most people assume that the way that you make money is that you hire a sales team, and you and they go out and bring you back money. And if they don’t bring you back money, that’s not the fault of your product. That’s not the fault of your marketing. That’s their fault. Time to fire them and find somebody that will bring you back money. So inevitably, almost not every time but many of the times that people think they have a sales problem, what they have is a company problem, not a sales problem. However, what does it require? What does it take, in my opinion to be a great chief revenue officer? And where have I seen people fail? Related to that comment that people don’t understand how money is made? I think fundamentally. The CRS that fail don’t understand what their job is, which is it is to generate revenue, but they are a steward of capital, I guess what I would say is that executives that fail often don’t understand business enough. And, you know, I come from a finance background. And, you know, for a long time, I’ve been dismissive of finance professionals, because all my friends went to work in finance. But the thing that finance professionals do understand is how to objectively and dispassionately evaluate a business. And too many sales leaders don’t understand that haven’t developed that skill. And what that leads to is inefficient or poor allocation of capital, right, you spend too much money and don’t make enough from it. And that’s because So another way of saying bad business practices or a lack of business acumen is a lack an inability to work effectively with data, write a great executive, it must be analytical must be not a not an optional skill. It’s not enough to just be an inspiring leader, we don’t just need Vince Lombardi, you know, we need, what we need is somebody that can look at the information that the business is presenting to you, which is going to tend to be financial information, and understand what the patterns are from that information. And use those patterns to both diagnose issues to understand what’s working, what’s not working, and then to predict the future. So you know, if you can’t forecast, you know, sometimes we will say, Well, what is it if you know, your job as a CRO is to hit the number, if you hit the number, you get to stay? Okay, well, that’s true, essentially. But it’s actually not your job to hit the number, your job is to understand how and why you hit the number. And if you don’t understand that, then you’re in trouble. Because when you don’t have the number, you won’t know why. And you won’t know what to change. And so what is the thing that’s going to help you understand why it is going to be your ability to work with data and not and you know, so many sales leaders. It’s just this crutch where they say, well, I’ll just hire my rev ops person, you know, hire my revenue operations person myself, I hired my analyst. If you don’t know how to use a spreadsheet, if you aren’t building your own spreadsheets, all of the best executives I’ve ever met, are fluent in Excel or just spreadsheets. Logic, they understand relational databases, like they understand how to build a model of reality using numbers and formulas. Not everybody knows how to do that, those people are gonna not tend to be executives at big companies
Alexander Ferguson 20:15
taking a different angle here, if you were to be speaking to a CEO or founder of a smaller stage SAS startup, and they’re looking to bring on a sales leader, maybe they’re a little smaller to not have a CRO, maybe there’s just a VP of sales or sales director, whatever. What would you be selling, saying to this, this, this founder, this CEO of what they should be looking for, in a VP of sales,
Sam Jacobs 20:40
I get this talk I give all the time. So the first thing I’d probably say is, hey, let’s make sure that’s what we need right now. Because I have this, you know, a point of view, as you can tell, I’m many things. And one of the points of view I have is on the order of operations. And what I mean by that is which departments need to become centers of excellence, before you move to the next department to make that a center of excellence. That order, generally speaking, you know, you start with the stuff outside of your control, like the size of the market, and where the market is. And hopefully, it’s a big market. And hopefully the forces are moving, you know, with you, and there’s wind in your sails. That’s the most important thing. The next thing that you need is a product, a great product that is, you know, oriented around a customer and a pain point. And I also say often, the thing about a great product is, you know, your customers need to agree to on two things right with you. They need to agree that they have the problem that you think that they have. And they also that’s not enough, they need to agree that the way that you’ve designed to solve that problem is a good way is the best way, right? People can agree that there’s a problem, and you just design a shitty way to do it. And that doesn’t work. So. So the firt The next thing is like, are you customer centric? Do you Do you know? Are you obsessed with your customers? Do you love your customers? Do you respect your customers, because you’re not going to build the best thing right away? It’s going to need to iterate and adapt. We’ve adapted so many times, as I mentioned, you know, as a result of COVID, and among other things. So that’s the next thing. Do you have a great product? And there are metrics that will tell you that the next thing after that is not sales, right? Like okay, I’ve got a great product, we’ve got a couple customers, okay, I don’t let’s not hire a sales leader yet. Let’s hire a head of marketing. So why? Because How is money made? Money is not made by salespeople, as I mentioned, right? There’s two elements to making money, or at least to capturing the first bit of money, right? The first part is getting somebody’s attention, so that they can have a meeting with you. And then the next part is turning that meeting into money. Right? So sales, turns meetings into money. Now you can say sales also generates meetings through, you know, demand generation. But Account Executives prospecting on their own as the most expensive way to get a meeting. And it’s not particularly scalable. And what you need to do is you need to do all of the hard things that nobody wants to do. That’s what you need to do. So what does that mean? That means, when it comes to marketing, you need to understand your messaging and your positioning and who you’re who your ICP is, right? Your ideal customer profile? Who are the personas you’re going after? What do they care about? And how are we going to design not just like, email cadences, not just like emails, but like, what is our messaging? Why do we exist? Now that may seem obvious? Haven’t you done that already? When you pitch to new raise the money and you do the thing? No, most of the time, no. And so do all of those things, begin to figure out what channels get you get you meetings? Ideally, the thing that should be, you know, that should be a leading indicator for you is that you’re getting, you know, what are your unit economics, which is a way of saying how much money are you spending to get a customer versus how much they pay you? If you’re not spending very much money to get a customer? Why would that be? That would be because they are telling their friends, because you are getting referrals, you’re getting inbounds because people are expanding their usage of your product, and you’re not really having to do very much. All of those are indicators that Okay, great. Let’s take that. Let’s apply some marketing to it. And let’s repeatedly and it can be through SDRs it’s not the most important thing is demonstrate that you can get a meeting, right? That’s the skill. If you can get a meeting repeatedly at scale, right? You in a formulaic way so that I add this many units at the top and meetings come out the bottom, then you can make money. I always say that, you know, the salesperson with tons of meetings, a full calendar and the worst sales process in the world, that person will make you money. The person with no calendar at all but you know, he’s been through Sandler Training and, you know, Miller Heiman and, you know, force management and you know, control the message and all that other stuff. That person will get fired. Because sales process is way way way like on hard to overstate. Way less important than the ability to generate meetings because you can fix sales process but you can’t fix nobody will talk to you. So um, so That’s what I would say, I’ll give that speech that I just gave to you. Yeah, and then I would, and then we can talk about, like, what would make a great, you know, VP of sales. But most of what I would most of my message back to the CEO is, let’s make sure that you’re thinking about this the right way. And once we can do that, then lots of people can be your VP of sales.
Alexander Ferguson 25:21
It’s powerful to realize all the things that need to happen first, before that salesperson comes in, and it sounds like you even speak from your own history in reference of coming in companies where the rest of the company may not just have that figured out, and they’re assuming you that you can fix it, you’re like, that’s not my job. You guys have to have all of this in place already.
Sam Jacobs 25:40
Yeah, that’s right. And again, and investors don’t really understand this. And so you know, part of like, the getting fired all the time. I mean, literally, one of the companies I worked for, like it was a piece of shit, you know, like they didn’t, the product was no good. They had mis sold the investors, right? So like, all of this is interconnected. You have this high venture capital valuation, but your thing is not a venture scale business. How do you rationalize that it’s like, it’s like going to somebody at the beginning, you know, the marathon tomorrow, and you go to somebody like, so what do I need to do to, you know, to beat for hours, like, there’s nothing, there’s nothing to be done, we need to go back in time, three months, and we need to start training. And so the problem with you know, my advice is, it’s deeply unsatisfying. Because inevitably, you know, the reason they want to hire a VP of sales is because they’re like, freaked out that they need to hit some revenue target. And it’s like, yeah, I’m telling them that, you know, well, there’s 12 Other things to do. Oh, by the way, those 12 things, they take a year, a year and a half, you know, like, it’s not like Okay, great marketing, marketing gets me leads, I want to hire a marketing leader. When the leads come, I’m like, well, the leads, probably won’t start coming for six months, because that person needs to ramp up and they need to figure out what your messaging is, and they need to go to like, go through some exercises to get the messaging down, then they need to deploy it and test it. Like Alright, nevermind, I’m just gonna hire a VP of sales. I hear what you’re saying Sam, but I’m just gonna do the wrong thing anyway.
Alexander Ferguson 27:03
It’s it’s one thing is is not hearing, hearing the answer you don’t want to get and then aren’t can you actually say great, let me let me and my big enough to go back and relook at that that the whole situation the for for your CEOs now because you’re you’ve built a CEO Pavilion of measuring this is something that you are honing in on for, for them of what is the proper procedure for hiring the right people? Do I have that right? Like, what’s what are you digging to in that pavilion?
Sam Jacobs 27:30
Yeah, I’m digging into that I’m digging into basically four things, you know, but part of it, so part of it’s just tactical knowledge, right? And the you know, the thing about being a CEO is, it’s way more than just that it’s way more than just go to market, it’s how do you manage engineering? It’s, you know, it’s HR stuff. It’s talent acquisition, and how much you should budget to hire people when there’s a massive talent shortage in every function all over the world. So it’s, it’s fundraising, how do you manage investors? How do you work with investors properly, so there’s a whole category of stuff, that’s about tactical knowledge. But what’s happened to me over particularly the last two years, is that there’s also been, I’ve also experienced, you know, I always say that, I hesitate to say it, but nevertheless, I’ve experienced a spiritual transformation, not a religious transformation, a spiritual transformation. And I think that has led to a lot of success for me. And in spite, also in that CEO pavilion, I guess I want to lead with the tactical stuff, because they wouldn’t, because nobody gives a shit about spiritual transformation in the abstract. And then I want to use the tactical knowledge as the Trojan horse, through which I will trick them into actually taking a journey with me, that will transform their entire kind of worldview. That’s actually the goal. And, and meanwhile, do a bunch of fun stuff, you know, in between, like, get, you know, box, get a box at the garden, and, you know, go see Billy Joel together, and, you know, go go to Park City, and ski and stuff like that. But also, I guess we could call like, personal leadership development or visionary leadership development, just a series of workshops and practices and skills that not just, you know, not just like, here’s who you should raise money from, and here’s what the term should be. But here’s how to approach your life. Here’s how, you know, here’s the mindset that that, you know, might help you generate more results and more return. Here’s ways of solving problems collectively that are better than what you might have experienced in the past. So that’s the second thing but you know, when I say that, they’re like, Well, I don’t need that I need to know how to raise my $20 million series A that’s, I don’t need a coach with a workshop. So I do that stuff. Second.
Alexander Ferguson 29:34
It’s it’s interesting to when you talk about being customer centric, you like providing what they need, but you know what they really should have. So making being able to have that available for those that once they realize
Sam Jacobs 29:46
Yeah, exactly. It’s you can’t you know, that’s the whole red bicycle thing. It’s like you know, the first step to getting your child to read bicycle for the holidays is making them want red bicycle in the first place.
Alexander Ferguson 30:00
I’m gonna take another angle around adoption of technology here because both for CEOs or or CROs or VP of sales, whoever in their role or even in marketing side trying to win people over to say you should try what I have. Because each one of those have have to play that role of convincing someone, whether it’s a investor, whether it’s a customer or salesperson. What’s your perspective? How do you approach being able to win people over adopting a new technology and a new solution? Any tips or thoughts come to mind?
Sam Jacobs 30:34
Yeah, I just don’t know. I never know if they’re scalable, you know, my, my stuff. Like I have all worldview, which is essentially a sales worldview. Because, you know, I run a business. So what, but this is why we didn’t raise money, right? Like, the first thing is takeover, like, my shortest answer to that question is go out and, and help other people, which is not super interesting or useful to, you know, a software CEO. So maybe I’m not the best person. But my point of view is, in the modern world, I find that direct selling efforts are becoming less and less effective direct selling efforts, like cold emails from SDRs, like, the annoying phone call that I just got that interrupted are interrupted our podcast. What does work? You know, well, what works is pure referrals, right? And trusted sources making recommendations, which is obviously why community is so interesting to people. Okay. Well, how do you become someone who is recommended? Well, you offer something in a true spirit, right? You you, you actually offer genuine help and insight. That’s why content marketing is so cool. It’s so humanistic. So beautiful. Content marketing is, I’m offering this to you to show you that I have an interesting point of view on the world, and that this might help you solve it. Once you agree with that, you’ll begin to trust me, and then maybe you want to buy my thing. And so this whole evolution, the two things, I mean, I think the world, at least this world of people, purchasing products, and things like that, I think it’s getting way better. And the two, the two forces that are driving that are product lead growth and content marketing, right? So content marketing says, don’t just hit me over the head with like, Please buy my thing. It’s offering me some value, offer me some insight, help me understand, you know, this is all my challenger stuff, Challenger sale stuff, help me understand the world in a different way, you know, teach me something. And then from there, you know, obviously, I expect that you’re teaching me something that redounds to, you know, your benefit through your way, whatever the product that you sell this, but nevertheless, teach me something product lead growth is use this thing for free, you know, or use it for very cheap, but largely for free. And if you like it, you’ll end up paying us money. And if you don’t, you won’t. Well, that’s amazing, because you’re forced to build something to people like, right, it’s not about like, the spin, it’s not about a sales methodology. I’ll tell you an example. You know, we have many great partners. One of them was HubSpot. I used I started this, I started a consulting business in 22,017, when I got fired from the muse, one of the companies, you know, that I used to work for. And I used to hub spots free CRM, when I started my consulting business, that instance, that original instance, which was called Sam F Jacobs consulting partners, and then it was called revenue collective LLC, and is now revenue collective Inc. DBA. pavilion, that is the same HubSpot instance, that the company still runs on.
Alexander Ferguson 33:41
It perfect example of starting with the product that the you you grow, grow with them. So it’s interesting, you suggest that the best way to overcome the adoption of technology of a new thing is, is product lead growth or content marketing, because I guess, if if you can’t offer it away for free, then content marketing is the next the next piece you could look at because it’s giving away something for free to bring them in.
Sam Jacobs 34:03
Yeah. Which is a way of saying look first, you know, look first to help others before you ask to be helped, like look to serve and mean it and mean it. You know, I mean, my whole belief system about businesses, like one of the, you know, and I’m, I’m, I’m plagiarizing, you know, Larry Page, you know, one of the co founders of Google but or alphabet. He said he was on a stage, I think, with Vinod Khosla, and you know, maybe he said this and ripped it off from who cares, it’s cannon at this point. You can do way less than you think in a quarter and way more than you think in 10 years. And the point that he’s making is that your time horizon can be a competitive advantage. If you play for a longer time horizon, then you can focus on making investments you can focus on long term relationships. If you play for the quarter If you play for transactions if like sign this, you know, sign this deal today, or you know, or it’s all gonna go away and you use all your credibility and all your cloud. I don’t, that’s not what I believe, right? I don’t think that works. I don’t think that’s sustainable or scalable. So anyway, that’s the main thing I would say to CEOs, which is played for a while for the long term, which is actually quite hard. If you’ve raised, it just depends on your burn. Because if you’ve raised money from investors that are expecting you to deliver something in the near term, then your incentives are out of alignment. And you could want to do something for the long term but not be in a position to
Alexander Ferguson 35:38
there’s definitely a lot there. But it’s a it’s that that very basic factor just have the the the base desire to help someone and realize it’ll take some time, but that will lead you in the right direction. I kinda want to end on what are you most excited looking ahead here, your roadmap for pavilion and just the overall direction of what’s coming up? What are you most excited about?
Sam Jacobs 36:00
I’m excited about? Well, what am I most excited about? We built this company is worth, you know, $100 million, right? I’m on, we don’t have any software Isn’t that wild? There is nowhere that you could go in that that is our product that you could go log into with a username and password. It’s on Slack, zoom, Google Sheets and a bunch of other third party systems. So we’re hiring a VP of product, we actually have a platform in beta. The point is that we got to we got this far on, you know, spit and polish and hard in, you know, and love of customer, but we didn’t have a lot of process. And we don’t have the right systems in place. And so I’m actually excited for investments that we’re making into our systems, so that we can scale and go from 10 million to 20 million, which is not a particularly exciting answer. So let me give you a second more exciting answer. Um, we’re heavily invested in online training and learning through pavilion University, and one of the courses that we have in development because the big, big idea, right, even what if everything I’ve just said, is itself a Trojan horse, right? The career enablement platform that people pay for is a means to an end, what is the end? The end is to teach people what I the essence of what I just shared with you that there’s a different way to do business that is focused on mutual support, reciprocity, and help that you’re not a sucker for helping other people the problem when you look to be altruistic or help other people or give of yourself, if you are the only person doing that in a room of thieves, yes, you’re screwed. But if you had some indication, some kind of public facing indication of what somebody’s values were, like, maybe it was like a little logo on their LinkedIn profile or their public persona, then you would feel much more confident being open, supportive and helpful, because you would know that that indication is like a stamp of trust. Well, we are building a course. That’s what community is like. That’s the whole point. Right? The whole point is that the technology, yes, we don’t have third party, you know, we don’t have our own software platform. But we do have technology, the technology are our values. And technology, the purpose of technology is to help you replicate and scale profitably, how have we replicated our values by teaching them to you, and then you teach them to the next member, and then you teach them to the next member in a way that feels similar to evolution, I suppose. So my point is this long winded answer. We’re building a course focused on like articulating our beliefs around proper business ethics around like helping other people and doing good. And that course on to the point of product led growth will be free. And anybody can take it, and you’ll be stamped as an affiliate member, you won’t be a full member, but you’ll be an affiliate member. And that way, both you know our pain community of 10 20,000 people, but hopefully, maybe 100 200 300,000 people, we will all have an indication that we can do business with each other more easily, more harmoniously more positively, because we are all we all have that stamp, you know, on our public persona. So that’s what I’m excited about.
Alexander Ferguson 39:05
Fam, thank you for sharing your journey that you’ve been on this passionate, you have a very different type of passion than some other people. I’m very emotive in my face, I get very excited. But your passion is is is a different intensity, which I appreciate. And I thank you for for sharing that. That’s true. I
Sam Jacobs 39:23
always done I always seem like visually, like maybe I’m in a bad mood or something like that. I’m actually in a very good mood. But you know, I area
Alexander Ferguson 39:29
is yeah, it’s how you are, but I can sense it there. For those that want to learn more, you can head over to join pavilion that’s joinepavilion.com And maybe in the near future, be able to take this this free course and become part of this this whole pavilion or maybe not the free part joining the rest. But thanks again for taking on the journey sharing your insights. And we’ll see you all on the next episode of UpTech Report.
Sam Jacobs 39:54
Thanks for having me.
Alexander Ferguson 39:56
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